Ministry - Rio Grande Blood
Rio Grande Blood
(2006: 13th Planet Records)
Subtle it is not.
Ministry’s 10th album is a torrential downpour of contempt for the Bush administration. As the record opens, the strategically altered sound of George W. Bush’s voice emerges over Mike Scaccia’s signature wall of guitar distortion, saying, “I am… a weapon of mass destruction. I’m a brutal dictator. I’m evil.”
The album is a veritable duet with Dubya, his voice appearing on almost every song as Al Jourgensen and crew take on various aspects of his administration’s policies.
The latin-flavoured metal of “Señor Peligro” addresses border control and
imperialism in US Latin America. The title refers to Hugo Chavez’s nickname for Bush (Mr. Danger) and warns to watch its back because “Señor Peligro is on the attack”. Venezuela
Although the album is full of interesting subject matter, it has to be said that most of the lyrics themselves are quite awfully written. For example: “I make a profit off people oppressed/ I take the money ’til there’s nothing left/ And all I gotta say is Yippie Aye Yay”. A good sentiment this may be, lyrical it is not. But in the end, the vocals are so thickly treated and heavily distorted you’d have to look them up to realize what they are.
Guests on the album include ex-Dead Kennedy’s singer Jello Biafra, whose rant against the “Ass Clowns” rails against “real live white collar terrorists”: congressmen who get off on torture and spend their time “perfecting new ways of drowning black people.” The song closes with a typical sadistic Jourgensen fantasy about tying senators to the missiles they adore. Another guest is the “Sgt. Major”, a Full Metal Jacket-style drill sergeant who is berating a soldier for not being man enough for the marines.
While most metal is filled with blind rage that is often sexist, war-mongering and idiotic, Ministry re-appropriates its key traits to channel the negative energy created by alienation into something constructive.
Jourgensen has said that he writes his best albums when Republicans are in office. Rio Grand Blood continues the tradition already established in 1992’s N.W.O. and 2004’s No W. When Bush won the last election, Ministry prolonged their Canadian tour just to avoid going back to the
Don’t put this album on if you want a reasoned or poetic look at the contradictions of war. Put it on when you’re mad and about to smash something. After an episode of CNN’s This Week at War, for example. What better way to unwind than deafening thrash metal and George W. Bush saying, “I want your money. I want crude oil. I’m an asshole.”
Some things don’t call for subtlety.